Check out the NF Center 2021, Volume 2 Newsletter!

Check out the NF Center 2021, Volume 2 newsletter (pdf) to read about new research on NF1 brain tumors, meet our newest faculty member, and read updates on patient engagement.

Additionally, learn about:

  • The second NF Center Trainee to become a Francis S. Collins Scholar
  • Our resident PT, Makenzie Sledd’s latest Blog

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to also take a look at our previous issues of the NF Center newsletter for additional NF-related research updates and patient spotlights!

NF Center Trainee Selected as an O’Leary Prize Competition Finalist

Each year, the Office of Neuroscience Research awards an O’Leary Prize to a predoctoral or doctoral fellow to acknowledge the most original and important accomplishments in neuroscience research at Washington University School of Medicine. Michelle Wegscheid, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. David H. Gutmann, was selected to present her research at the 2021 O’Leary Prize Competition as a finalist, where she showcased her exciting work on a new causative gene involved in NF1 and autism.

Gait Analysis in NF1 Mouse Model Revealed Developmental Abnormalities that Persist into Adulthood

As part of an investigation into share motor impairments across genetic liabilities for intellectual and developmental disorders (IDDs), a research group led by Drs. Susan Maloney and Joseph Dougherty, in collaboration with the Gutmann Lab, recently discovered altered gait development in mice harboring a patient-derived Nf1 gene mutation. This new study conducted a comprehensive analysis of gait across a critical developmental window in which gait matures in the mouse model.  Nf1 mutant mice exhibited altered spatial, temporal, and postural subcomponents of gait compared to their control littermates, which persisted into adulthood. In addition, the pattern of disruption to gait development in the Nf1 model was also observed in a mouse model of Williams Syndrome, another IDD that features motor deficits. Overall, our findings indicate that IDDs may share features of atypical gait yet differ in resolution or persistence of these phenotypes. Therefore, gait may serve as a helpful outcome variable in studies of therapeutics’ efficacy in the long-term treatment of IDD.

Rahn RM, Weichselbaum CT, Gutmann DH, Dougherty JD, Maloney SE. Shared developmental gait disruptions across two mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders. J Neurodev Disord. 2021 Mar 20;13(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s11689-021-09359-0. PMID: 33743598